NBA Trade Rumors: James Harden, 5 Backups Ready for Starting Spots
There are a number of players around the NBA that have played backup roles their entire career that might pursue starting spots via free agency or trades in 2011.
Many players, like Eric Maynor, are in the perfect situation to play the backup role behind an elite talent—they can grow through the early years of their careers. But most NBA players soon become anxious to find a starting role.
This summer, there is not a record-breaking free agent class or a blockbuster deal for an All-NBA-type player in the works. Rather, there are a number of rumors surrounding good players that will look for opportunities to start.
Let's take a look at five backups that are ready for starting spots in the NBA.
5. Reggie Williams, SG, Golden State Warriors
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Reggie Williams has gone unnoticed on Golden State's bench, but he is primed to be a starter in the NBA.
Williams has gotten used to being overlooked. After averaging more than 27 points per game during his last two years at VMI, Williams went undrafted.
The Warriors gave him a chance, and he earned his way to a defined role in Golden State as a scorer off the bench.
Still, he has shown flashes of starting potential. With the trade rumors floating around Monta Ellis, it could provide the chance Williams is looking for.
The Warriors have restricted Williams, meaning any team can make an offer to him but Golden State can match it. Otherwise, he will remain a Warrior for one more year at a bargain price.
Whether he gets an offer or not, Williams is ready to be a starter. His offensive efficiency is off the charts. Last season, he shot 42.3 percent from three-point range. He may not be the best athlete, but Williams is a perfect filler for a team looking for a scoring two guard.
He would be a great fit in the starting rotation for the Bulls if Golden State does not retain him.
Whether Williams gets his opportunity in 2011 or not, he will continue to take the court, expecting to be overlooked. Like always, he will continue to make people regret looking past him.
4. Eric Maynor, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
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Eric Maynor has been preparing himself for a starting role for a couple of years now, learning behind Russell Westbrook.
He was drafted by the Utah Jazz, then moved to Oklahoma City in a trade during the 2009-10 season.
Since then, he has played second fiddle to Westbrook as one of the better backup point guards in the league. It is rare for a team to have two young talented point guards on the depth chart like the Thunder does.
ESPN reported rumors of Maynor being shopped the Oklahoma City before the draft. Whether the rumors are true or not, it might be in the best interest for both parties.
Maynor has grown into a solid point guard that needs experience to take the next step. He would be a great fit on a rebuilding team that will allow him time to make mistakes and grow.
As for Oklahoma City, it needs to continue to sprinkle in veteran leadership on this team. With Westbrook playing big-time minutes, a veteran point guard that provides off-the-court leadership would be an asset.
So, Maynor may not quite be ready to take the league by storm as a starter. Still, the rumors that have him moving out of Oklahoma City may allow him to begin the transformation into a starting NBA point guard.
3. Glen Davis, PF, Boston Celtics
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Glen Davis has achieved a number of things that most backups do not stick around long enough to do. This includes: Win a championship, log significant playoff minutes, and learn from Kevin Garnett as his understudy.
Davis has a fairly impressive resume, and all signs point to him turning into a starter for the 2011-12 season.
"Big Baby" Davis has said to the MetroWest Daily News that he would love to stay in Boston, but at the end of the day "it's a business." He is looking for a bigger role next season, and that may not come in a Celtics uniform.
By all accounts, he seems ready for a starting role in the NBA. He is only 25 years old, and has four experience-ridden years under his belt.
He reached career highs in points per game (11.7), rebounds per game (5.4) and free throw percentage (73.6) last season.
Davis will be a valued free agent this offseason and should fit nicely somewhere as a starting power forward.
2. Lamar Odom, PF, Los Angeles Lakers
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Anyone that follows the NBA knows that Lamar Odom has been and always will be a starter-level talent in the league.
In fact, he has been a starter his entire career until taking a sixth-man role with the Lakers during the past two years.
Now that he is entering the back end of his career, it is time for him to take the lead role of a team once again as he pursues another title.
Odom has been rumored in a number of trades. Leading up to the draft, ESPN reported rumors that included Minnesota, Golden State, and Philadelphia as potential destinations.
Whether Odom would like to be traded or not, the best part would be the increase in minutes while taking a leadership role.
Clearly, Odom is one of the most talented players in the NBA that does not start. With the recent trade rumors, it appears to be time that he turns back the clock and turns back into a dominant starter before his high-level playing days are over.
1. James Harden, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
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James Harden is too talented to not start next season in Oklahoma City.
There have not been any recent trade rumors surrounding starter Thabo Sefolosha, but it should be irrelevant.
It's clear Harden is the more talented all-around player. Sefolosha does bring a defensive prowess that exceeds what Harden can do on that side of the floor, but he can still bring that energy off the bench next year.
Harden broke out in the 2011 NBA Playoffs. He earned about five extra minutes per game compared to the regular season while boosting his field goal percentage from 43.6 percent to 47.5 percent.
The NBA community finally took notice of his ability to contribute alongside the two well-known Thunder stars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Next year, Harden should be able to overtake Sefolosha and earn a spot in the starting five.
He will finally be recognized as an impact player, forming Oklahoma City's young potent version of a "Big Three."